Joy Comes in the Morning (Maggie)

Psalm 34:18“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

         Jesus hurts when we hurt. This is something I have been reminded of over the past few months since the relationship I was in ended back in December. Jesus is in the midst of our suffering and wants to bring us comfort. He is there to help us up after we have fallen. I have only been in two serious relationships in my life, both in the past 3 years, and I have learned more about the character of God and about myself in that short amount of time than ever before.
            God uses our tough circumstances to bring Him glory, and to bring us closer to Him. He uses these hard times for good. God’s love has pushed through all the darkness and pain and has washed over me again and again like waves in the ocean; constant and strong.
            I have had vivid dreams ever since I can remember, and most of them haven’t been good. They are mostly scary or painful, and the night we broke up, I figured I wasn’t going to sleep well. I cried out to Jesus pleading for peaceful dreams. He gave me something better. Jesus was in my dream that night. He came out to where I was sitting and told me everything was going to be okay and I just needed to wait and trust Him. He told me He loved me and was there for me. If I close my eyes, I can still picture the dream, and that gives me joy and peace.
            A very literal representation of God’s love for me was shown through my dad. The next day I called my dad to tell him what had happened. My voice broke over the phone as I choked out “Daddy we broke up”. The compassion and sadness in my dad’s voice was so strong as he cried with me on the phone.  That is how God feels when we hurt. In John 11:1-35 is the story of Lazarus. Many focus on how Jesus raised him from the dead, but something significant to me in this passage is that Jesus had compassion on the family who was mourning the loss of their brother. Jesus cried with them even though he knew he was going to raise Lazarus just moments later. He hurts when we hurt. He cries when we cry. He is there sitting with us when we feel like we are all alone. But the pain doesn’t last.

Revelation 21:5“And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” 
            Healing isn’t instantaneous. It doesn’t happen overnight, but God does heal us and make us new in time. About a week after my first break up my junior year, I got probably the worst sunburn in my entire life after studying out on the Great Lawn. Now if you know me, you know I am a very pale, freckly Irish lass. So I basically looked like a lobster. It was the MOST painful sunburn and I was so upset at myself for letting it happen. Then during the second week of this sunburn that was still not healing and me still being upset about it, God gave me an analogy. The pain felt from healing from a broken relationship can be compared to the process of healing from a bad sunburn. At first you are happy where you are, out in the sun, having a wonderful time and soaking it all in. You know there is a risk of getting burned but you don’t worry about it in the moment. The end of the day comes and you realize how much sunburn you got, and how much it hurts. The first few days are horrible. You can’t move, it puts you in a horrible mood, it makes you cry, and you are in the most pain you have experienced in a long time. People can tell you are hurting by how red your skin is, they know something is wrong, but sometimes can’t tell the cause. It’s easy to cover-up the burn with a shirt and a smile… The pain is too much to bear so you try to fix it and fix it fast. You try all different ways of making the burn feel better, lotions, aloe, and cold showers, but it still isn’t healing fast enough for you. So you get impatient that you aren’t better yet. You then try and quicken the healing process by peeling off the dead skin that is only just starting to peel. Gross right? But the new pink skin that is underneath isn’t ready to be open to the air and you end up being in more pain than you were the day before, and then the lotions and aloe hurt too much to put on your skin. What you need to do is be patient, and give yourself time to heal. It’s a long process that goes in steps that have to be taken in order, and slowly. After your skin is fully healed, you will get “new skin” and it will be tender for a while, but definitely better than before. Having your heart broken is similar to having the sunburn. You try to fix it by distracting yourself, covering up the pain, or just plain ignoring the pain. Healing takes time and patience, and faith that the Lord can heal you if you just give Him the time and have faith that you will eventually be better in His time, not yours. He will make you new again.

{Living on Mission} (Heather)

“If you haven’t chosen what you’re living for, you’re living life by default, acting out the scripts handed to you by family, other people’s agendas, and the pressures of circumstances.”
-Linda Dillow (Calm My Anxious Heart)

I read Calm My Anxious Heart a year ago, and I loved it. It challenged me to think about how I was living my life day to day. I didn’t want to live in reaction to my circumstances, and I wanted to be wise in the things I chose to do as well as the things I chose not to do. I wanted focus in my life, so I created a mission statement.

I started out by writing down verses that really captured my heart over the last few years [2 Corinthians 12:10; Exodus 33:14; 1 Timothy 6:15; Philippians 3:7-9; Psalm 51:10-13; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; Hebrews 10:23; James 5:16; Revelation 21:4] Then I looked for common themes among these verses. I also thought about the different responsibilities God had entrusted to me (such as being on staff with Cru, discipling women, and being married) as well as what passions He had given me. After praying through these things, I felt like God had given me a picture of how He wanted me to live my life for Him through the mission statement below.

For the sake of Christ I want to:
o   Grow through learning continually, thinking deeply, and the studying of God’s Word
o   Demonstrate my eternal perspective by being content and restful, living out of my weaknesses, and embracing suffering
o   Develop others by teaching, encouraging them in their strengths, sharing my life, and challenging them to grow
o   A wife and mother that puts her family first by encouraging them towards Christ, loving and serving sacrificially, and creating beauty and warmth in our home
o   All of this on the foundation of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, who is always faithful to me, and the hope that one day He will wipe away every tear from my eyes

I would love to hear what passions God has laid on your heart. How has He uniquely gifted you to express the Gospel to others? I’m praying that the following verse will be true of you and me as we reflect our beautiful Savior to the world!
Live life then with a due sense of responsibility not as women who do not know the meaning [and purpose] of life, but as those who do. Make the best use of your time, despite all the evils of these days. Don’t be vague but grasp firmly what you know to be the will of the Lord.

                                                                                                            Ephesians 5:15-17

“Speak, for your servant hears.” (Laura)

“Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. 2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was.

4 Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” 5 and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. 6 And the Lord called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

8 And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy.9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” 

 [The next 8 verses are the Lord sharing a vision with Samuel that was difficult for Samuel to tell others. But Samuel is faithful to share it with Eli and not hide God’s words—making him a true prophet.]

19 And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord. 21 And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.”

— 1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-21

I LOVE this story of God working and I can see how God would work in parallel ways today. I’ll keep my own thoughts short though and encourage you to ask the Lord yourself to speak to you. Three short observations for you:  
1)   Eli knew the Lord well and was able to recognize His voice calling Samuel.
2)   Samuel came with a humble heart, ready to learn.
3)   Samuel treasured the Lord’s words and never let one go unheard.
I pray for each of us know the Lord so deeply that we readily recognize His working in our friends’ lives and I pray that we would be bold to point them to Christ. And I pray as we meet with the Lord, that we treasure His words so dearly that not a single one passes us by.
One last gem to share with you that was shared with me by my dear friend and mentor Robin…it is an acronym that can be used when reading scripture and making observations about a passage:
Sin to avoid
Promises to keep
Examples to follow
Actions to take
Knowledge to remember
Happy Monday!